History of Mortl’s Sports Center, Inc.


At the ripe age of 17 and a junior at Escanaba High School, a friend and I, Matt Marenger, started working on a business plan to open a bicycle repair shop.  My desire to become an entrepreneur came true on April 1st, 1985, the day we opened what was to be our 1st of 2 stores.  It was no April Fools joke either.  This dream all started in a 900 square foot building on South 14th street in Escanaba, MI. - The opening of Mr. Bike & Ski.  (MR - M for Matt and R for Rich) Neither one of us had a bunch of money, in fact, hardly any money at all but we put our heads together and when you have the drive that Matt and I had, there was no stopping us.  We approached local banks to ask for money, which was not an easy task.  They pretty much looked at us like a couple of young kids with a pipe dream


The snowball started rather quickly.  We both had a strong work ethic and had the strongest desire to be successful.  We purchased a monkey - Yes a real monkey named Barney.  It sounds funny, but it was unbelievable on how many people came to see a real monkey in Escanaba, Michigan.  This may have been our smartest marketing move ever, for everyone was talking about us and stopping in to see what the buzz was all about!  Barney only stood about 16” tall, but roamed freely throughout the store and people were simply in “Awe” over him.  It gave us the opportunity to show the community what we had to offer – a monkey and a bicycle repair business – what a perfect match hey? 


Our original intention was to simply fix bikes and sell skis during our long winter months but the request to start selling bikes came on immediately, of which we answered.  Our first line of bikes consisted of Quentin and Panasonic, along with a line of Jarvinen and Asnes XC Skis.  At 17, we were invincible, so exactly 1 year later, April 1, 1986 we opened a 2nd location in Iron Mountain, MI.  It was a small 500 square foot showroom.  I was now a full time college student running 2 different locations.  Oh – the energy we have when were young.  After graduating from Northern Michigan University with a degree in Accounting, I took my first job in Denver, CO and sold my ½ to Matt.  Only in Denver for 8 months, I moved back as an accountant for Lakeshore.  In 1990, I purchased the Iron Mountain location from Matt and there was no looking back. In 1996, I built our current building and the name changed to Mortl’s Sports Center, Inc., for we were no longer just a bike and ski business.


33 years later and now in our 4th location since 1986, you will walk into an 8000 square foot building full of “FUN STUFF”  We are a full service Bicycle, Ski, Snowboard, Fitness, Snowshoe, Sunglass, Clothing and Accessory Specialty Sporting Goods Retailer.  I strive daily to have the latest and greatest equipment in every sporting goods category I am involved in.  If there is a hot new product in the industry, we are on it.  Our brand names speak louder than words, but it is not the name brands and best warranties in the industry that have made me successful.  It is MY STAFF!  I live and breathe by one quote I made many years ago – “WITHOUT SERVICE – I AM NOTHING!”  You can find everything we sell in our competitor’s buildings, but I STRONGLY feel that you will NEVER beat the service and expertise you will experience the moment you walk through our doors.  Know when you walk through our doors that you will be greeted by experienced, trained and courteous staff at all times.  Also know that we stand behind our 110% Low Price Guarantee for a 100 mile radius.  You don’t have to worry about shopping the big city shops, for you will not find cheaper prices or better service than you will find right here and I back up this comment with my 110% policy.  This price guarantee even covers you for 30 days after your purchase.


Brand names you will find include: Trek, Haro, Rossignol, Fisher, Horizon Fitness, Matrix Fitness, Oakley, The NorthFace, Burton, Under Armour, Atlas,  KEEN, Smart Wool, SUP ATX, Bogs and many more.


Many thanks to My Parents, My Family, My Friends and My Staff for all the support since 1985.  Please stop in and let me prove that you’ll love your experience at Mortl’s Sports Center, Inc.


Rich Mortl

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